Summer Video Games Preview

With the scalding days and warm nights of summer ahead of us, there’s no better place to escape the heat than at your desk in a sealed room with an area fan planted firmly beside you. This summer’s offerings may be light, but one or two solid games should be enough to lull anyone into a comfortable state of torpor during the next heat wave.

“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”

CD Projekt RED’s open world role­playing game, based on a series of Polish novels, is looking like the hottest title of the summer after its Feb. release was pushed back to May 19 so the developers could iron out some late stage bugs. For the third installment of the game, players will take on the roles of the titular Geralt of Rivia and Ciri, a trainee witcher with her own side story.

Previews have promised plenty of flashbacks and expositional dialogue to catch new players up on the series’ storyline, but the gist of it seems to be this: Geralt will take on a ghostly faction known as the Wild Hunt and be reunited with his long lost love, Yennifer, by the series’ finish. In pursuit of these aims he must protect villagers, and himself, from hordes of dark monsters by collecting clues and working with the suspicious populace to engineer their end.

While CD Projekt RED has touted everything from the game’s living, breathing world to its meaningful side quests and total lack of loading screens, GameRant warns that they’ve failed to come through with much publicized features like mounted combat before. It might be best not to hang on their every word, then, but “The Witcher’s” strong story and wide reaching moral consequences seem like a guarantee.

“Batman: Arkham Knight”

The next and last title in Rocksteady Game’s “Batman” series, coming June 23, promises a “dual play” feature that will allow players to make the change between characters with ease. That combined with the addition of a driveable Batmobile may be just the fanboy bait needed to make Batman’s final showdown against the Penguin, Two­Face and the mysterious Arkham Knight a success. Off the streets, “Arkham Knight” will also bring the wheelchair­bound Oracle, Lieutenant Jim Gordon’s daughter, back into the action to provide Batman some much needed logistic support.

With more fluid combat and an increased reliance on the environment of the ever expanding Arkham City, “Batman: Arkham Knight” may be just the game players deserve right now.

Too Much TBA

With a third of the year gone, two games I’ve had my eye on have maintained a nebulous “TBA 2015” release date: “Stardew Valley” and “No Man’s Sky.” The latter, a procedurally generated space exploration experience by Hello Games, encourages players to investigate the unknown universe with an open mind. The developers have kept the objective of “No Man’s Sky” intentionally vague and designed the universe of their game with the “90-10 rule” in mind.

“If you fly into space, and you go and visit planets, most of them will be dead, they will be rocks. What we want to do is, 90 percent of the time that will probably be true in our game,” Sean Murray, managing director of Hello Games, told Polygon. “We will hold that back, which means, say, only 10 percent of the worlds will have that full ecology. Only 10 percent of those will have something like a rainforest on it that has birds and fish and creatures.”

“Stardew Valley,” on the other hand, tells a story much closer to home. ConcernedApe has been working single handedly with Chucklefish, an indie game developer, for several years now on a homage to Natsume’s “Harvest Moon” series that lets out all the stops. With the nostalgic style of “Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town” for the Game Boy Advance, “Stardew Valley” offers fans another shot at the farm life of their dreams with more animals, crops and expanded mining and relationship options, not to mention a non­linear story arc.

While many “Harvest Moon” games of the past tasked players simply with reinvigorating their rundown fields, players will need to stop the nefarious Joja Corporation from taking over town or lose it all.

With ConcernedApe hinting that “Stardew Valley” has just months of finishing touches left and Hello Games remaining as elusive as the purpose of “No Man’s Sky” itself, there’s always hope that this summer will bring us something truly memorable.

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